The first thing you notice as you approach the restaurant is its small, appealing patio, which has four picnic tables and is set back from Throckmorton Street. The interior seats about 60, with a mix of tables and booths. The design consists largely of the hardwood floors, exposed brick/ductwork and subway tiles that are becoming standard at a lot of contemporary restaurants; there’s a chalkboard telling you where the locally/regionally sourced food comes from, and black-and-white photos of butcher shops to remind you of where the beef in the burgers comes from.
If you’ve ever been to a Chop House Burger — a small chain that is not related to Chop House Burgers (note the plural) in Pantego — you know the drill, and even if you haven’t, it’s pretty familiar: fast-casual. Order at the counter, get a number, a server brings your order to the table. You can grab a menu as you walk in, or stare at the one on the counter.
In these days when some burger joints offer you 15 or 20 burger options, CHB keeps it pretty simple: three beef burgers, a chicken-fried-chicken sandwich, an ahi tuna burger, a turkey burger called the “Gobbler” and a veggie burger (the “Green”) with a falafel patty and tzatziki, pickled cucumber and hummus among its toppings. Prices range from $5.95 for the Chop House burger (black summer truffle sauce, red onion, tomato, greenleaf lettuce) to $7.95 for the Wine Country burger (topped with goat cheese, honey mustard, arugula, red onion and tomato).
There is also a monthly burger special, in this case the Cuban, which is not named for the owner of the Dallas Mavericks but is instead a mashup of a burger and a Cuban sandwich: an Angus beef patty topped with pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and mustard. Burgers and Cuban sandwiches are a couple of my favorite things, so I was disappointed that it wasn’t available at the soft opening, although I was told it will be Friday.
Burgers are elegantly constructed and presented, not too large, and the brioche buns from Dallas’ Empire Baking Co. hold them together well and add an extra flavor element. CHB tends to put its toppings on with a delicate hand, although there was so much melted goat cheese on the Wine Country burger that it almost resembled sour cream (and strangely, did not have that pungent tang you expect from goat cheese, but the burger was overall good enough that I didn’t mind).
Most burgers, beef or otherwise, don’t come with cheese, which is 50 cents extra. Fries are also extra, and it’s worth springing $3.25 for the truffle Parmesan fries, which come to the table with a truffle aroma and are so generously sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley that you’ll have plenty of both left over after you finish. Straight french fries, sweet potato fries and chili-cheese fries are also available ($1.99-$3.99).
Shakes ($4-$5.50) are a strong point: Flavors include the Italian Nut Job (vanilla ice cream, Nutella and hazelnut), the “Frenchie” (vanilla ice cream, Madagascar vanilla bean, scalded cream and crushed caramel), cookies and cream, and Malt Balls (both pretty much what they sound like; the Malt Balls shake was excellent). Plus basic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.
Music was a pretty steady stream of alt-rock and adult contemporary: Foster the People, the Killers, Maroon 5. The music fit the vibe, and during my visit was at a low enough volume to allow for conversation.
You can get a burger at a lot of downtown restaurants, but the only real burger-centric spots are Jakes and Five Guys. Chop House Burger is a couple of blocks from both, and different enough to offer another option for downtown burger lovers. And the shakes and fries are a bonus.
And that Southlake location? DRG Concepts is scouting for a place to put it.